Housing and homelessness support for veterans in need

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has found that the homelessness rate for veterans who recently left the Australian Defence Force is almost three times that of the general population, and that about 5,800 ex-serving men and women are homeless in any 12-month period.[1]

This makes addressing the problem of veteran homelessness a priority of the first order for RSL NSW and our partner charity RSL LifeCare.

Homes for Heroes comes home

First established in 2014, RSL LifeCare’s Homes for Heroes Program provides support to those who are experiencing homelessness and assistance for those at risk of homelessness, to assist them to live sustainably and independently in their chosen community.

After a recent two-year partnership with Wesley Mission, RSL LifeCare Veteran Services has built its internal capabilities and is resuming the program in-house.

A veteran, or a person acting on the veteran’s behalf can reach out to RSL LifeCare’s Homes for Heroes team via phone, website, or email and will be responded to within one business day to assess the situation and start planning their transition back to independent living.

Visit the RSL LifeCare website for more information about Homes for Heroes.

Housing assistance

Complementing the Homes for Heroes program, RSL LifeCare provides housing assistance to help provide eligible veterans with safety, stability and independence by working with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice through the Rent Choice Veterans program.

It supports eligible veterans to:

  • obtain a lease or stay in their current accommodation,
  • get subsidised rent for up to three years, and
  • gain skills and work opportunities to support financial independence.

For more information including eligibility requirements visit the RSL LifeCare website.

Financial assistance

To help veterans deal with financial issues which can contribute to the risk of homelessness, RSL LifeCare can provide short term financial assistance to veterans needing help with things like groceries, electricity bills, transport, funerals, school fees and childcare.

Visit the RSL LifeCare website to see more information and view the Financial Assistance form.

Mark’s story

Mark, a veteran of the Army, was referred to RSL LifeCare for support when he was given a 90-day termination notice for his rental property.

At risk of homelessness and uncertain on what to do next, Mark’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs advocate advised him to contact RSL LifeCare. Their Housing Project Officer worked with Mark to complete a housing application for the Rent Choice Veterans program.

In addition to helping Mark submit a successful application, RSL LifeCare also provided financial assistance to help Mark afford initial repayments and later access an online course with Open Colleges – a Certificate IV in Accountancy and Bookkeeping.

Following a successful three-year period in the program, Mark is transitioning to the private rental market with a positive rental history, the life skills to maintain his accommodation, and an opportunity for new employment pathways thanks to his study.

When asked what the support meant to him, Mark said “The support meant that I am no longer struggling, not only financially, but mentally too. Since working with the RSL LifeCare team, I feel more positive and am continuing my studies to see what happens.

“I know that if I require any help in the future, help is only a phone call away.”

Karl’s story

Karl* is a veteran of the Australian Army who was referred to both RSL LifeCare and Homes for Heroes by his fellow veterans at his local RSL NSW sub-Branch. Karl had been struggling with mental health issues and was experiencing homelessness.

Homes for Heroes was able to assist Karl with transition accommodation while the RSL LifeCare Housing Project Officer set about finding him a more permanent living situation. Using the NSW Department of Communities and Justice Rent Choice Veterans program, RSL LifeCare was able to help Karl locate and apply for a new home.

Karl’s application was successful and RSL LifeCare is now helping him get settled by assisting him with financial support for his bond, an advance on rent, and some household goods.

Karl now has somewhere to call home, as well as the sense of security and self-empowerment he needed to embrace a more positive outlook for the future.

*Name changed for privacy purposes

Related coverage

RSL NSW donates $2.1 million to RSL LifeCare

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

[1] https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/new-data-reveals-true-extent-homelessness-australian-veterans  (17 July 2020)

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